When students learn to analyze a published author's writing style—and send a written critique straight to the source—they suddenly see writing as a powerful act.
I'm not going to do that,” 8th grader Julius announced when asked to send written feedback to professional writer Gary Soto on Soto's short story “The Challenge.” “I can't write to an author and tell him what's bad about the story.”
Julius wasn't the only student in the class who felt that way. I have found that instructing students to critique a piece of writing and send that critique to the author initially causes incredulity and grumbling. Almost always, it is the first time students have had such an assignment.